The weird pressure to breed and make babies at 28

First comes love, then comes marriages, then comes the baby. . . Nope!

I’m 28 years old, about nine weeks away from getting married, and the pressure is at an all-time high to start planning a family. I want to make something clear to everyone—on behalf of all women in a relationship who don’t have children and aren’t ready for or interested in having them—I am not getting married so I can have a baby for everyone! I am not getting married to have a baby, period. I am getting married because I love the man that I’ve started to build a life with, and I want him by my side for the long haul. For me, the baby conversation is secondary. Yes, I found the man who will (very likely) father my children, but that’s not why we’re getting married.

I remember getting engaged back in 2012 and realizing what it meant for my parents and future in-laws: I was next in line to have a baby. My brother was married, had already had my niece, and now it was my turn. We had opened Pandora’s Box. As soon as we went from boyfriend/girlfriend status to betrothed, it got serious. It wasn’t a question of if, it became a question of when. Not, when are they getting married, but rather, how soon do you think she’ll get pregnant. Well, over the two years since my engagement it hasn’t happened, and post-wedding I still won’t be planning on it just yet.

At this stage in my life—and I feel this is a common millennial problem—I’m still trying to figure things out. Not in the love department, of course, but in the what do I want to do with my life department. There are still things I want to do, places I want to see, and freedoms I want to enjoy before settling down and having children. You see, I don’t consider getting married “settling down.” Sure, I’m not single and bar-hopping on Tuesdays, but I certainly don’t feel limited by including another person in my adventures. I’m not slowing down or settling down. I’m just getting started!

Marriage aside, just being a woman in your late 20s and 30s means the world is on baby watch—your parents, grandparents, best friend, aunt, hairdresser—basically anyone and everyone who knows that you’re childless and not getting any younger. Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s the norm, and it’s no one’s fault that marriage and children have become the social standard, but it doesn’t make it less aggravating when you have to hear this all the time:

How old are you? Oh, you have time. . . but don’t wait too long.

You have three bedrooms? One of those will be a nursery soon!

You have a headache? Are you pregnant?

So when are you having babies?

So you’re next line to have babies?

When are you going to give me grand-babies? The pressure doesn’t end with family and friends; co-workers are just as presumptuous as the rest of them. I swear I can’t say the words “headache” or “nausea” without someone asking me if I’m pregnant. Just because I’m of childbearing age doesn’t mean I’m pregnant all the time! Some people just have headaches. It’s a thing. It just happens. But despite all logic and reason, the assumption of being “pregnant” (or not) will follow me until I’m postmenopausal, I’m sure.

Being a woman in a relationship has always equated to eventually procreating. I hope when people are considering marriage, they’re not just considering the right sperm donor, but rather the right person to walk with through life’s unpredictable journey. You need to marry someone who will make you happy whether kids come or not.  I’m going the Jennifer Aniston route on this one: I’m going to live, love, and have kids—if and when I ever feel like it.

Carmen Zita Alayeto is an advertising executive by day, aspiring actress about once a week. You already know her: she’s your self-deprecating best friend who makes you laugh until you cry.

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